Michelle Champlin, Founder & Chief Podiatrist of Dubai Podiatry Centre talks to us about verrucas and how to avoid them this summer.
What exactly are verrucas?
A verruca is also commonly called a plantar wart. It is a contagious viral infection caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
How do kids get them and why are they so common?
The virus enters the skin through even the tiniest scratch or cut on the foot. Similar to catching a cold from being around someone who has the virus, you can pick up the verruca virus by walking around barefoot, shortly after someone who has a verruca. Popular places to come into contact with the verruca virus are around swimming pools and public changing rooms.
Are there different strains of verruca? Some more serious than others?
There are two types; a single verruca or a mosaic verruca. A mosaic verruca is a cluster of verrucas in the one site in your foot, therefore appearing quite big and unsightly. Both types of verruca have the same appearance, although the mosaic verruca tends to be on a grander scale. If you are able to have a really close look at a verruca, you will be able to see the capillary heads pushed up from the dermis, into the epidermis layer of skin. They look like you have little bits of black pepper corn under your skin. The verruca causes thickened skin to grow over the affected site, which is why some people may think a verruca is a corn at first. The thickened skin can grow very hard and quite bumpy, like the top of a mini cauliflower head!
If left untreated what can happen?
Verrucas, if left untreated, can grow up to an inch or more across the foot and can cause pain when weight-bearing (standing or walking). Sometimes it feels like trying to walk when there is a small stone in your shoe. They are contagious and can spread around the site and even to other parts of the body such as the fingertips, especially if your child has a habit of picking at the verruca. The verruca can also be passed onto other people.
What should parents do if they think their child has a verruca?
Parents should bring their child in to see a Podiatrist – at Dubai Podiatry Centre we have Podiatrists who specialise with children’s feet, and a friendly and caring approach is key to all of our patients. The Podiatrist will assess and verify that the lesion is a verruca and explain all about the verruca – including how to prevent spreading it and treatment.
What is the treatment method for verrucas?
If you are diagnosed with a verruca, the Podiatrist will use a treatment called Dermojet. It is the latest in verruca treatment and has a much higher success rate compared to less effective older treatments such as salicylic acid and cryotherapy. Excising the site (surgically) should never be used due to scarring. Do not use over-the-counter verruca cures such as corn pads, as these can cause damage to the surrounding skin and cause the site to become ‘macerated’.
What steps can parents and kids take to prevent them happening?
To limit risk of contracting the virus, wear flip flops around the pool and changing rooms.If you or someone else in your family has a verruca, never share a towel and do not walk barefoot around the house.